COMMENT Three cities of Malta
AS A keen supporter of the Royal Navy I was a bit surprised that you mistook some Maltese city names in printing the visit of HMS Illustrious in November. We are proud that HMS
Illustrious has been affiliated with what we call the three cities in
the article (December, page
5) with the heading Lusty visits Malta.
The three cities’ names should read Cospicua (or Bormla) Senglea (or L-Isla) and Vittoriosa (or Birgu). We are also sad that this can be her last visit to Malta.
I will be more than happy, that
you as editor of the Navy News make a note of this in your next issue of the paper. I myself am proud that my
grandfather served in the Royal Navy for 25 years but on the other side I am Maltese and proud of our small island which gave her utmost in most of the conflicts which took place in the last 100 years. Please forgive me if I have been a bit of a critic although you are doing a great job with the Navy News.
– Paul Mallia Malta GC
Formidable memories of carriers
THANK YOU for printing my daughter’s letter (January). I would like to add a couple of points she didn’t know about! The Formidable was not the
only ‘fleet carrier’ to be hit by the kamikazes. All six were hit over the period
of the battle for Okinawa, none of which were mentioned in the book The Royal Nay Day by Day. Another interesting point, the
hit on Formidable on May 9 1945 happened to be the day after VE Day (Victory in Europe). One of the Formidable’s pilots
won the last Victoria Cross of World War 2 – Lt R H Gray VC DSC.
On a visit to the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton a few years ago they didn’t even know about it (no wonder they call it ‘the forgotten war’). No celebration or relaxation for the British Pacific Fleet.
– Tom Day Poole, Dorset ... I REMEMBER HMS
Fomidable being hit and also two other carriers, by kamikazes as HMS Euryalus was the ack-ack escort ship to the carriers. At this time, May 1945, we
were with the American Fleet and under Admiral Nimitz and Admiral Halsey, Third and Fifth Fleet, and joined Task Force 58 and 37 for Operation Iceberg, for which I have about 30 pages of copies in my archives. This included operations on Sakishima Gunto Islands and the reoccupation of Okinawa. Also in the area were carriers HMS Illustrious,
Victorious and Indomitable, all
associated with Task Force 57, 63, 111 and 112 over this period of time.
– Mr K J Taylor,
(HMS Euryalus 44-46 Ex RM) Broadstairs, Kent
... THE article on Formidable memories revived much of that time on May 4 and 9 1945. I was serving as a signalman onboard Formidable during those traumatic days and vividly remember both kamikaze hits as I was on the compass platform at the time (our TBS callsign was ‘Lucky’...). I
too share the views and
opinions of Mrs Geary’s father. Sadly this magnificent ship had
a very short career, having first commissioned at the beginning of World War 2 – she was actually launched on August 17 1939 and was decommissioned and laid up in reserve seven years later in 1946 and subsequently scrapped at
Inverkeithing 1953. There was a Formidable
Association for many years until its closure, sadly, several years ago when the declining numbers fell to about 30 members. I share many of the thoughts
of your contributor about Formidable and this well-built Belfast ship.
I subsequently served in other Harland and Wolff-built ships – Bulwark and Belfast – all of them very happy ships!
Tom Warden Bridgwater
Never saw Skegness HAVING read the Skegness
stranding letter in your December issue, it reminded me of early 1940 as a young volunteer to the Navy when war broke out. I was sent to Skegness – it was a
new Naval depot, and I was there for
six weeks very severe hard
training. I lost over 1½ stone in that
time. The only time we left the depot
was every Saturday morning on a fi ve-mile run/march in formation
PROFESSIONAL development training. Not exactly front-line, you might think. A bit artificial. Classrooms and computer screens. But a glance through this month’s edition tells another story. A ship is saved from sinking because of skills learned in a damage
repair instructional unit – an artifice, certainly, but one which rocks and rolls and deluges trainees with cold water. Very much like the real thing, in fact. A Royal Navy Lynx helicopter based on a French warship helps
capture a pirate action group off the Horn of Africa – testament to a range of specialist skills honed through training. HMS Monmouth is a constant hive of activity, with everyone from gunners to boarding specialists taking every opportunity to brush up their capabilities, alone and with Gulf minehunter HMS Atherstone. The soon-to-be HMS Ambush works through a programme of contractors’ trials, and as she does her consort HMS Westminster uses the occasion to put her own Ops Room to the test, training
24 FEBRUARY 2013 :
against one of the most capable and stealthy boats in the seven seas. Patrol boat HMS Exploit, with a group of students on board, hastily arranges an ad hoc exercise with an RNLI lifeboat. Elsewhere, Naval personnel – regular and reservists – dive off Malta and Ascension Island as part of Adventurous Training trips. In short, there is training, then there is Royal Navy training – varied, challenging and based on believable scenarios. The value of realistic, tailored training has long been valued in the Senior Service. Just think of the reputation of the Nelsonian gunners, drilled into a widely-feared fighting machine. Or at the 50th anniversary of the RN’s Outdoor Leadership training
apprentice employer for the second year running suggests that such farsightedness in training is still embedded in the Navy psyche. The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the MOD
Leviathan Block, HMS Nelson, Portsmouth PO1 3HH
February 2013 no.703: 59th year
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with all gear on – out and back. We never saw Skegness, and also no beer places. We were then sent to Shotley for
another six weeks, boys’ training schedules – yes, and one of our company was not only 42 years old, but also a trawler skipper in Civvy Street. I fi nally served in three
destroyers. Thought it may be of interest.
Ernie E Southon Canterbury, Kent
in November ● HMS Hood at Scapa Flow
‘Hood’ footage made me fume
WAS there anyone else who, like me, settled down to watch the recent Channel 4 documentary When Bismarck sank HMS Hood, and three minutes in was (not so)
quietly fuming? We were promised new, unseen, colour footage of Hood. And what we seemed to get were
bows-on shots of Repulse, her aircraft handling cranes and triple 4in mounts clearly visible, and a broadside view of what looked like HMS Iron Duke, possibly in her gunnery training role. Later on in the documentary we saw Churchill sailing past a Nelson-class, and yes, Hood. I’m not sure, but I think that the pictures of
Mr Angry tone, and to point out how the images were incorrect).
Naturally, I’ve heard nothing since. But I have started to wonder, does it matter?
Was it, as I asserted in my first email, “sloppy editing”, or was I overreacting, because I had some detailed knowledge of warships?
Each month Pussers Rum are offering to courier a bottle of their finest tipple to the writer of our top letter. This month’s winner is: Andy Field.
that battleship in heavy seas were of a modified Queen Elizabeth-class (possibly Warspite), and not the Prince of Wales. Actually, the commentary never actually seemed to claim the ship on screen was the ship being spoken of, but the assumption was certainly there. In true ‘Mr Angry’ mode I emailed Channel 4 to point out the errors, and got an acknowledgement and the assurance that my comments would be passed on to the programme makers. (Actually I emailed twice, the second time to apologise for my
A grateful thanks
WE WOULD like to thank the Royal Navy HMS Drake establishment in Plymouth for all their help and support. In 2009 my husband, AB
Cowell, who was serving on HMS Campbeltown, came down with bowel cancer. Things didn’t go to plan and
Service and Drake doctors have been a Godsend. We would also like to thank Hasler for their help with organising help within the home. – Sarah Cowell, Ernesettle, Plymouth
Flagging up an interest
THANK you for publishing my story on Capt P Ligertwood’s RMLI Platoon fl ag (January, page 28).
as Australia (RMAQ Brisbane), also veterans of HMS Renown, HMS Diana and HMS Hermes. I will inform you of reunions as they are due.
– Don Ligertwood RMHS RM Rtd, Plymouth
I have had calls from as far afi eld
every year he has had operations and treatment. Without the help of the Navy we don’t know how we would have managed. The Naval Personal and Family
World Cup victory, illustrated with pictures of any old football match from 1966? So does it all matter? Was it sloppy editing, or just a complete lack of knowledge of someone who has no interest in warships or World War 2, and was working to a tight time schedule? Or is it symptomatic of something else, say the ‘sea blindness’ we often hear of? Or am I really just ‘Mr Angry – A Naval Nerd’? I’d be interested in what other readers of Navy
– Andy Field Eye, Suffolk
Is it enough for documentary-makers to illustrate their programmes with “eye candy”, in this case, pictures of Royal Navy ships? (you can almost imagine the conversation in the editing suite: “Well, it’s grey and floating, so it’ll do”). Would the same hold true for a documentary on say, England’s 1966
Mushroom tales grow
DURING my time in the Fleet Air Arm we had a saying: “I’ve got a blacker cat than you,” meaning that I can better that story just related. Following the letters (December January) with
mushrooms being divided, with separate destinations,
it was 1947 and I was a Naval Aircraft Artificer apprentice
running round the parade ground, carrying a rifle for half an hour, followed by an hour working in the main galley. I recall cutting off the stalks of
boxed mushrooms and repacking the buttons for another destination and retaining the stalks for us miserable apprentices! This is where the ‘black cat’
comes into the picture because we also took off and retained the outer leaves of the boxed lettuce and repacked the succulent hearts for the same destination. Any more Black Cats?
– Geoff Vinall
... I WAS on a NATO exercise in the Comcen in FO Malta in 1970. We were on night duty when
HMS Ark Royal collided with a Russian warship. As you can imagine, all hell broke loose. The Admiral was awakened and
duty Maltese steward and arrange sandwiches asap. I duly woke the aforesaid
HMS Condor, Arbroath, finding myself doing seven days’ 8A, a punishment
I recall at
attended the Operations Room in his dressing gown and jimjams. I was called over by his Flag to go and find the
steward who mumbled away in Maltese but managed to conjure up some corned beef sandwiches on a platter. I eventually arrived back in
the Operations Room with said sarnies, and was immediately taken aside by Flags and asked to explain why these sandwiches still had their crusts on. Did I really expect the Admiral
to eat sandwiches with crusts on? Back I went to awaken duty steward
mumbled even louder this time, and between us we cut off all the crusts for our poor Admiral. Oh happy days!
– Steve Jamieson Ex-RO2(T) Exeter
... I SERVED on the Captain’s staff at HMS Peregrine, RNAS Ford,
Naval fire in the ’50s gave me gunner’s ear
WHENEVER I see gunnery ratings on ships closed up at action stations on documentaries or news items on the television I see that everyone is wearing anti-fl ash gear at their station.
Especially when salutes are fired from the saluting guns. The crew are always wearing white overalls with hoods and gloves and wearing ear protectors.
I find this most amusing and enclose a photograph of A gun’s crew, a twin 4in mounting, on HMS Manxman when we were on a foreign commission in 1951. Note
No 8s. the dress, which was
At the time this was the normal dress of the day while at sea, and that was how we dressed to man and fire the guns. At no time were we issued with, or offered, anti-flash clothing or ear protectors. I can imagine the reply from the ship’s GI if anyone asked for such a thing. I served on two other C-class
destroyers as a leading seaman QA2 on 4.7 guns, and at no time was any protective clothing issued. My, how times have changed! – Vic Everest (tinnitus sufferer caused by naval gunfire) Cheshunt, Herts
heard that the Air Traffi c Control duty crew coming off the middle watch used to pick the plentiful supply of mushrooms on their way back to the mess as dawn broke. Apparently the restaurants and B&Bs in nearby Littlehampton, a seaside resort, made good use of them and, after money changed hands, it became a ‘nice little earner’ for the lads. It all came to a grinding halt,
however, when the Commander (Air) became aware of the prolific growth of fungi and had them all poisoned (the mushrooms, not the lads). He determined they were “a hazard to navigation” and could lead to aircrew misreading them as static ground signals which were white in colour, and meant to be visible from the air! Good while it lasted though! – Brian H Jackson
(Killick Scribe 1952-57) British Columbia, Canada
Sussex, in 1955-56 and again, who
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